American Kyle Merber and Cuban Andy Gonzalez traded jerseys after the 1,500-meter final at the Pan American Games on Friday. The friendly gesture comes just days after the reopening of embassies in Havana and Washington D.C., as the U.S. reestablishes diplomatic relationships with Cuba.
Merber finished seventh in 3:43.60 and Gonzalez placed 11th in 3:49.06. 2012 U.S. Olympian Andrew Wheating took gold in 3:41.41.
“Events like this are what makes sports so special," Merber told SI.com “It’s an opportunity for individuals from different countries to come together and compete. There is no government here, it’s just people. Hopefully this is the first of many trades for the U.S. and Cuba. Now I just need to find a way to go and visit so we can get a run together.”
On July 20, Merber hinted at the exchange with a tweet that read, “Going to try and trade jerseys with Cuba [because I can]. Thanks @POTUS! #PanAms2015”
Trouble still remains in foreign competition with Cuban athletes defecting as two baseball players and four rowers have left their teams while competing for Cuba in Toronto.
Hopefully the first of many trades for the United States and Cuba! This is why I love opportunities to represent my country and what makes sports so incredible. I had a tough one out on the track in today's 1500 final, but my experience at the Pan American Games extends beyond just the competition. Thanks to Anthony Gonzalez for the great race and new jersey! #USATF #Flotrack #Runnerspace @usatf #cuba #thanksobama #FirstTrade #to2015